The Purple Bowl Brings Acai Bowls to Chapel Hill

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Wendell and Paula Gilland. Photo by Briana Brough

Paula Gilland doesn’t have to visit her son Taylor in California to get an acai bowl anymore. “We were out visiting him in San Francisco and I had one and it was delicious,” she recalls. “I said, ‘We’ve got to get this in Chapel Hill. I can’t believe we don’t have this [there].’” Led by Taylor, the family opened The Purple Bowl in July and now Paula can get her fix on West Franklin Street, just a few miles from home.

For those unacquainted with acai bowls, think of it as a smoothie you eat with a spoon. Made from a base of unsweetened acai, strawberries, bananas and hemp milk, the bowls are topped with fruit, bee pollen and chia seeds, making them a treat for the eyes too. Customers can customize their bowls or order offerings like avocado toast, Japanese-style iced coffee and fresh coconut.

Taylor, who holds a double major in commerce and economics from UVA, will serve as the main owner from California but thankfully has plenty of reinforcements in Chapel Hill. “It’s actually been a whole family adventure,” Paula says. “It’s just been kind of a fun side project where we’ve all pitched in and worked on it together.” Daughter Laura is in PA School at Duke, husband Wendell is a professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and son Kevin just followed his brother cross-country to start at Berkeley.

In their first few weeks of service, Taylor says the reception has been welcoming. “[It’s] really cool to see all the different people from the Chapel Hill community coming in and giving it a try. We have UNC athletes, Carrboro people, old people, country people, high school kids and families all coming in,” Taylor says. “[I] hope it can be a melting pot of our unique community where students and townspeople meet.”

Photo by Connor Hickey

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Jessica Stringer

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